Andrew and I must begin in earnest preparations for the construction of an addition to our home. This is complicated by many factors, and it has been difficult for us to settle on one plan and go for it. None of them feel quite right. There’s also an inner conflict for me: do we build according to (modified) American standards, or do we build so that we are all a little squeezed?

Here is our current home structure: the converted barn houses the kitchen and living room. It also has one bedroom and a loft. Currently Renee and McKinley share the bedroom, and Andrew and I have the loft. Then there is the Second House composed of two parts: the shop and the older kids’ bedrooms. The shop was added by the previous owner and is exceedingly poorly built. It will be destroyed. Andrew will probably rent a shop offsite. The section that is the kids’ bedrooms is better constructed, though not that much better–it’s inefficient and in need of work. Andrew and I decided some time ago that we’d rather just be rid of that section, too.

So at the very bare minimum we need two bedrooms (one for Bert and one for Rae and Alex to share) and a sunroom for passive solar heat. But three bedrooms would be such a blessing to Rae and Alex—it would mean they would have their own rooms for the first time ever. But there’s not enough room for construction of a third bedroom without first demolishing the Second House. So it would go like this:

1. add two bedrooms onto the house
2. demolish/remove the Second House
3. construct last bedroom and/or garage apartment

I guess that’s how we are going to do it. And I like the idea of adding on just two bedrooms and then building a small garage apartment for the oldest child. So now it’s time to draw up the final plans. Strawbale for the bedrooms. Cob for the sunroom. Passive solar water heaters on the sunroom’s roof will supply us with our hot water for daily use and for our radiant floor heating, which will be installed in the new construction and then in the main part of the house. Back up heat is our massive Pioneer Maid cookstove, installed last fall. The garage apartment could also be constructed to house our solar/wind electric system, which is installed now in yet another poorly built structure. Can you hear our wind gennies humming? Can you hear our deep sighs of thanks?


Plans — 5 Comments

  1. Plans?

    So, you’re putting on an addition, eh? I pray that will be easier than starting a 4300 sqft timber-frame, SIP panel, 72-window, 3 bath, 3 (soon to be 4) bedroom from scratch. It’s taken us since 1999 (that’s when we bought the property) to build our dream house. In the meantime, we’ve lived at my mother’s, moved maybe 5 times and rented.

    In that time, I’ve developed a vast amount of patience, given up on deadlines and got very Zen about it. The house will be done when the house is done. It’s my personal koan.

    I send Good Building Thoughts.

    Love and Architecture,

  2. Re: Plans?

    Wow! I hope it’s easier than that, too! What’s SIP panel, by the way? I am guessing that if you are doing the sheetrock it won’t be too much longer…am I right? *fingers crossed*

    I want to know more about this house. What an immense gigantic project! Good Luck!

    Love and Thoughts of Project Completion,

  3. Just a note about cob houses, garnered from my ex husband who is not just a builder, but a craftsman.

    Cob houses, despite PR, do not hold up. You *will* have to repair/replace/rebuild in 5 – 10 years.

  4. Thanks for the heads up. We had a consultation of sorts with some friends of ours today, and we are going to skip the cob. We are really excited about all the nifty things we’re going to be doing! I’m going to have to take before and after pics, because the transformation is going to be miraculous!

  5. LOL Just count on it taking about twice as long as anticipated. All construction projects are like that.

    Yes, please post pictures! Speaking of pictures, I found my camera. I hadn’t left it in Nashville after all. It was hiding under the bottom partition of the rolling duffel bag I’d packed. Sigh . . .

    I’ll get the pictures of the spirit houses later today.

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